Oil and the Emerald Coast

By
Mortgage and Lending with Regions Mortgage

With more and more Realtors and customers expressing concern regarding the potential effects the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could have on our local real estate market, I thought I would offer up my two cents and what I have been telling anyone interested enough to listen. While I will not attempt to minimize the enormity and severity of this unprecedented environmental disaster, I will offer my reasons for why we on the Emerald Coast should fare far better than our friends in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We here in Bay and surrounding counties have several things in our favor that should keep the oil impacts to a minimum.

The first and most obvious reason Florida Panhandle beaches will not feel the full brunt of the spill is simply proximity. The sickening images of birds literally drowning in oil and reporters up to their knees in thick crude are coming from those areas in Louisianan closest to the site of the spill. The enormous amount of oil released before any semblance of a response could be mustered by BP or the Feds all has inevitably found its way to the barrier islands and Marshes of the Louisiana coast. Similarly, wind, rain and wave action along with sunlight and humidity gradually break down the oil and, over time and distance, work to turn the oil into a less lethal substance at least in the short-run.

Another reason why the impacts here will be less severe is that if there is any coastal barrier that could be considered optimal for oil impact it would be a sandy beach. The marshes and estuaries of Louisiana are the worst place for oil as once it is there it is nearly impossible to clean up. In Alaska, after the Exxon Valdez incident, much of the impacted coast was rocky and gravely and subject to much greater tides than hear in the Gulf making cleanup painstakingly difficult. Our minimal tides and pure sand beaches mean that if the oil does come ashore, it will be easily cleaned up and carted away and the beach re-nourished…just as we do after a hurricane. Only this time it will be BP paying for it.

Lastly, between the Alabama-Florida state line to the tip of Cape San Blas, there are only five passes into the Gulf that oil could potentially enter our bays. The largest and most immediately threatened is, of course, the Pensacola pass where boom is deployed and skimmers are already operating. After that there is only Destin Pass, St. Andrews, Crooked Island pass and the entrance to St. Joe Bay and all of these are considerably smaller and more manageable than Pensacola. I feel confident that, in part because we have had so long to plan and prepare, that boom and skimmers will keep the oil out of Choctawhatchee, St. Andrews, and St. Joe bays as well as Crooked Island Sound and there will be little or no environmental impacts in these areas.

Again, it is not my intention to minimize the effect this catastrophe is having on the region and our way of life. It will take years before the entire Gulf Coast recovers from this man-made tragedy. But if there is a silver lining, the Deepwater Horizon was not drilling just off our coast when it exploded and took the lives of eleven men. It was off the coast of Louisiana where the impacts have been greatest. Of course, none of our good fortune to this point will hold out forever if BP does not stop the flow of oil into the Gulf. We have been lucky to this point and still have a lot in our favor, as I have mentioned, but until the flow of oil is permanently stopped, we cannot know how much we will ultimately have to clean up.

 

Comments (1)

Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA
FrankRubiRealEstate.com

Hunter I hope your right about FLA but this morning news they were in Destin and was waring for some sort of landfall this weekend. I hope your right.

Jun 11, 2010 05:13 AM